Getting Acquainted With Peter, 5: The Confession
- Monday, May 17, 2004
After years of believing in Jesus, I finally came to a point where I fell on my face and declared Him to be the Lord of my life. I made a personal declaration - a confession - of who He was and is and evermore shall be to anyone and everyone who would listen.
Just afterward, as truths came to me faster than I could possibly sort or contain them, I found myself in a small bed of confusion.
I'd ask God difficult questions...and He'd answer, but often I still found myself confused. Then, He would send a confirmation as to who He is in my life and the plan He has for it, again proving my importance to Him.
Sometimes we bring great joy to the Lord. Other times He must rebuke us. Still, He loves us dearly...and so Peter learned some two thousand years ago.
We've talked about this before, but it bears repeating: Peter knew very well who Jesus was.
Jesus and the boys were in Caesarea Philippi, a place dedicated to the glory of Rome. The phrase, "Caesar is lord!" could be heard clearly from her citizens. How appropriate that Jesus should ask His disciples there, "Who do people say I am?"
In other words, we know who people say Caesar is. But what about me? Who are people saying I am?
It wasn't that Jesus didn't know the answer. It wasn't a question to be answered in order to enlighten Him, but to bring enlightenment to the men He loved and was preparing for great service.
The boys answered, "Some say John the Baptist." John had been beheaded by this point...and some believed John had returned in the form of Jesus to continue his ministry. "Others say Elijah." Elijah was their great prophet whom God had taken up into heaven via fiery chariot instead of death. "Or, one of the other prophets," they concluded.
"Okay," Jesus nodded. "Now...how about you. Who do you say I am?"
Just last evening, as I sat in my living room with my home group sitting about me, I explained something very important to them: it's not enough to know what you believe. You must be able to know why you believe it.
Peter answered, "You are the Christ [the Messiah]." (Mark 8:29b)
In Matthew's version of this story, there is additional dialogue. After Peter's confession, Jesus says to him, "Blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah."
Note that Jesus calls Peter by his given name, Simon. Remember back to the first installment of this teaching. In John 1:42, upon meeting Simon, Jesus remarks to him, "You are Simon...but you will be called Cephas." Cephas (pronounced kay-fas') means rock and Jesus continues, "...on this rock I will build my church." (Matthew 16:18, emphasis mine) He also tells them of the power behind the confession. "The gates of Hell will not be able to overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be found in heaven, and whatever you loose one earth will be loosed in heaven."
Then Jesus warned them to keep all this to themselves.
What a fabulous moment of declaration! Peter makes a profound statement as to the Messiah-ship of Christ and is rewarded by Jesus with a new identity in Him. And then...confusion steps in and seemingly ruins the moment.
Jesus has told His disciples not to tell anyone about who He is...and then begins to prepare them for His future. He tells them He will:
- Suffer many things
- Be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law
- That He must be killed...but that He will be raised from the dead on the third day.
Mark states in 8:32 that Jesus spoke "very plainly" about these things.
Remember, Mark's gospel most likely came from his relationship with Peter. Peter may have sat down with the young Mark, who he later refers to as "his son," and said, "You know, Mark...when Jesus told us about this...He made no bones about it. He was to the point, forthright. There was not a single point of confusion...and yet, boy! Was I confused!"
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